Berkeley bans junk food at grocery store checkout aisles with nation’s first ‘healthy checkout’ ordinance

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) — Berkeley is set to become the first city in the state — and possibly the nation– to pass an ordinance removing foods high in sugar and sodium from the checkout line at grocery stores.

The Berkeley City Council unanimously passed the “healthy checkout” ordinance Tuesday night.

The measure is set to take effect in March 2021, with enforcement beginning Jan 2022.

“We’re not saying you can’t have these goods. We’re just saying they’re not going to be right at the eye level of your children when they walk into the store and you’re waiting in that long line at check out,” said District 3 Council Member Kate Harrison.

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Starting in March, only items with 5 grams of added sugar or less and contain less than 250 milligrams of sodium per serving will be allowed at the checkout aisle.

Think protein bars instead of candy bars and no-sugar-added juice instead of soda.

“We know that people that eat a lot of high-sugar and salty products have worse health outcomes and this particularly besets low income communities and people of color,” Harrison said.

While some are in favor of the move others question if there needs to be greater education.

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“Part of it is not giving people a false sense of accomplishing something where really the issue could be community education, making sure kids in schools are eating correctly and have access to food,” said Joseph Azam. “That stuff matters more to me than rearranging groceries at the checkout stand.”

Berkeley was the first in the nation to pass a soda tax in 2014.

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